China Open 2019 – Day 6 – SF

Exactly as I expected we have two members of the top 16 in the Final tomorrow, despite all the early exits at the start of the week. The two semi-finals couldn’t have been more different. Jack Lisowki completely outplayed Scott Donaldson and raced to an emphatic 10-1 win. Neil Robertson eventually beat Luca Brecel by 10-7 but the match stayed very close up to 7-7. Luca had a great opportunity to go 9-8. An unexpected miss and then a safety error cost him a chance to stay in the match. Neil was the more solid of the two mentally and that made the difference eventually.

Here are the reports by Worldsnooker:

Afternoon session: Neil Robertson 5-4 Luca Brecel  –  Jack Lisowski 8-1 Scott Donaldson

Jack Lisowski is just two frames away from reaching the second ranking event final of his career, leading Scott Donaldson 8-1 going into the second session of their XingPai China Open semi-final in Beijing.

Lisowski appeared in his maiden ranking final at the season opening Riga Masters, losing out to Neil Robertson. The Englishman followed that performance up with several strong showings to secure his place in the world’s top 16 and ensure qualification for this month’s World Championship at the Crucible.

Scotland’s Donaldson is the only remaining threat to David Gilbert in the Race to the Crucible. Gilbert currently occupies 16th position and is now looking to be close to safety, with world number 52 Donaldson needing to win the event to leapfrog him.

Lisowski put on a supreme display in the opening session to secure his hefty advantage, firing in century runs of 114 and 136 on his way to establishing the 8-1 scoreline.

Neil Robertson came from behind to secure a slender 5-4 lead heading into the evening session against Luca Brecel, in what has been a high quality encounter.

The Thunder from Down Under is aiming for his fourth consecutive appearance in a ranking event final, having won the Welsh Open and been runner-up to Ronnie O’Sullivan at the Players Championship and Tour Championship.

World number 14 Brecel, who is assured of a Crucible place, claimed the opening frame with a break of 70. Robertson levelled immediately, but the Belgian went on to take two on the bounce and lead 3-1 at the mid-session.

When they returned Robertson ramped up the level of play, with a break of 135 to cut his deficit in half. Brecel hit back with a century contribution of his own, a run of 116. However, consecutive breaks of 94, 98 and 52 saw Australia’s Robertson take three in a row to lead 5-4 heading into tonight.

Evening session: Neil Robertson 10-7 Luca Brecel  –  Jack Lisowski 10-1 Scott Donaldson

Neil Robertson continued a red hot run of form to secure his place in the XingPai China Open final with a hard fought 10-7 defeat of Luca Brecel.

Robertson will face Jack Lisowski in tomorrow’s final over the best of 21 frames with a top prize of £225,000 up for grabs. The match will be a repeat of the final at the season opening Riga Masters, where Robertson came through a 5-2 victor.

The Australian has now appeared in four consecutive ranking finals, having won the Welsh Open and been runner-up at the Players Championship and Tour Championship. If Robertson were to win in tomorrow’s final he would take his earnings for the season above £500,000. Victory would also see the 2010 World Champion move from seventh to fourth position in the world rankings.

Former China Championship winner Brecel will leave Beijing with the consolation of £45,000, having reached his first semi-final of the campaign. This week’s run has confirmed his place in the world’s top 16 in the Race to the Crucible.

The pair came into the evening session with just one frame between them, after Robertson edged a narrow 5-4 lead this afternoon.

It was Brecel who started the brightest tonight. He claimed the opening frame with a break of 85, before taking the next to move 6-5 in front. The match then swung back the way of Robertson, who fired in breaks of 56 and 65 to lead 7-6.

Belgium’s Brecel levelled at 7-7, but Robertson upped his game as the finishing line came into sight. The 15-time ranking event winner composed runs of 73, 83 and 66 to claim three in a row and secure the 10-7 victory.

Robertson said: “I think Luca played an amazing match. If he was against anyone but myself, Judd or Ronnie he would probably have won today. Huge credit to him. I did well in the first session to get the lead from behind. I kept believing and kept trying even though I’m really tired. This is my fourth final in a row, which is crazy. I’ve been playing snooker non-stop recently.

“I’ve played a lot of snooker the last four or five weeks. The last couple of tournaments have been long distance matches, but I guess that is getting me ready for the World Championship.

“There was huge pressure on us both in the final in Riga. You want to win a tournament early in the season and that would have been his first title. I feel really good. If I was playing someone who was more tactical who tried to bog the match down I’d struggle as tiredness is going to kick in, but tomorrow won’t be like that.”

Lisowski progressed courtesy of a 10-1 demolition of Scotland’s Scott Donaldson. He has enjoyed a fine season and appeared in the Masters for the first time earlier this year. The Englishman has maintained his position in the world’s top 16 and will compete as a seed at the Crucible for the first time later this month.

Defeat for Donaldson means that he misses out on the chance to pip David Gilbert to the last remaining spot in the world’s top 16 for the World Championship. Donaldson will now have to head to qualifying next week to attempt to secure his place.

Lisowski had already established an imposing 8-1 advantage after a sparkling display in the opening session. He made light work of finishing the tie off this evening, reeling off the two required frames in under half an hour to book his place in the final.

“It was a great day for me. I managed to get on top of Scott from the first frame. I just stayed on top the whole game. He didn’t have a lot of run, but he is a great player and is really improving. Both of us are quite new to this. I just managed to keep my head down,” said Lisowski. “I feel like I’m dealing with situations much better than I was at the start of the year. This season has been a learning curve for me. I’ve had some tough defeats, but I think I’m on top of things now.

Tomorrow the final will be played over a possible 21 frames, first to 11. Given how their past encounters went, records and experience, Neil Robertson must be the favourite. However, I would be very surprised if it was a one-sided match this time.

These results mean that the seeds at the Crucible are now known, although the “seeded” draw can still change.

Should Neil win tomorrow, here is how it would look:

Mark Williams (1) v Dave Gilbert (16)
Kyren Wilson (8) v Barry Hawkins (9)

John Higgins (5) v Stuart Bingham (12)
Neil Robertson (4) v Shaun Murphy (13)

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Mark Selby (3) v Luca Brecel (14)
Mark Allen (6) v Jack Lisowski (11)

Judd Trump (7) v Ding Junhui (10)
Ronnie O’Sullivan (2) v Stephen Maguire (15)

Should Jack win this is what it would be like:

Mark Williams (1) v Dave Gilbert (16)
Kyren Wilson (8) v Jack Lisowski (9)

Mark Allen (5) v Stuart Bingham (12)
John Higgins (4) v Shaun Murphy (13)

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Mark Selby (3) v Luca Brecel (14)
Neil Robertson (6) v Ding Junhui (11)

Judd Trump (7) v Barry Hawkins (10)
Ronnie O’Sullivan (2) v Stephen Maguire (15)

Whatever happens tomorrow there is a rather strong possibility of a Ronnie v Judd Trump clash in the QF.

Ronnie will also work with Eurosport during the World Championship and, actually, I think this could help him. Often in the past he has struggled with the length of the tournament, not so much the matches, but the “idle” time in-between. There is only so much practice you can do. Being kept busy, doing something he loves, with people he loves, might actually prevent him to “over-think” about the matches to come and keep him safe from boredom and home-sickness.

2 thoughts on “China Open 2019 – Day 6 – SF

    • Honestly Bernd, the way Ding is playing this season I’m not even sure he’ll win his first round match there, let alone beat Trump.

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